Neuroimaging standards for research into small vessel disease and its contribution to ageing and neurodegeneration
High neutrophil to lymphocyte ratio (NLR) is correlated with the occurrence, morbidity and mortality of cerebrovascular disease as a marker of systemic inflammation. However, its effect on cerebral white matter hyperintensity (WMH) is unclear. We investigated high NLR burden as a surrogate marker of WMH volume in a healthy population. Healthy subjects with voluntary health check-ups between January 2006 and December 2013, including brain MRI and laboratory examination, were collected. WMH volumes were rated quantitatively. A total of 2875 subjects were enrolled, and the mean volume of WMH was 2.63±6.26mL. In multivariate linear regression analysis, NLR [β=0.191, 95% confidence interval (CI)=0.104 to 0.279, P<0.001] remained significant after adjusting for confounders. Age (β=0.049, 95% CI=0.045 to 0.054, P<0.001), hypertension (β=0.191, 95% CI=0.101 to 0.281, P<0.001), diabetes (β=0.153, 95% CI=0.045 to 0.261, P=0.006), and extracranial atherosclerosis (β=0.348, 95% CI=0.007 to 0.688, P=0.045) were also significant independently from NLR. Additionally, the high NLR group (NLR≥1.52) was related to male sex, hypertension, diabetes, current smoking, extracranial atherosclerosis, silent brain infarct, and high WMH volumes. In conclusion, high NLR is associated with larger WMH volumes in a healthy population. Assessment of NLR may be helpful in detecting cerebral WMH burdens in high risk groups.